The Ateyapi program is offered to students grades 4th through 12th in the Rapid City Area Schools system. It is a mentoring program led by American Indian mentors who are drug and alcohol free, and knowledgeable about Lakota culture.


Ateyapi programs are offered in three high schools, five middle schools and five elementary schools in Rapid City.



  • develop and maintain a positive lifestyle, especially through practicing positive culture values, including regular exercise, healthy eating and avoiding risky behaviors;

  • success in school and in the world through developing necessary skills and habits;

  • give back to the community and their families, especially to promote family self-sufficiency.



  • provide services year-round

  • at least one mentor per school

  • healthy snacks and meals provided

  • physical activity is a part of every program

  • provides teacher assistance and mentoring in the classroom

  • after school program and summer programming including curriculum, cultural activities, field trips and community outreach. 


"Rural America Initiatives, through its Ateyapi program, is vital to the positive mentorship of American Indian youth in Rapid City. It provides a much needed cultural infusion into the lives of students in a system that is lacking in Lakota cultural competency.


The Ateyapi program provided a sanctuary for me during high school; a time to connect with other Indian students and positive mentors. For that I am truly grateful."  

Tatewin Means, Former Attorney General, Oglala Sioux Tribe



Lakota for "Fatherhood" (pronounced "Ah-tey-ah-pay")



In 2015 93% of Ateyapi participants in the 12th grade completed high school! This percentage is higher than the 2015 completion rates of all Rapid City!

In Class...




  • helped to bring the drop-out rates for all American Indian students in the Rapid City Area Schools from 63% in 2012 to 41% in 2015;

  • helped middle and high school students maintain higher attendance than any other American Indian youth in Rapid City and across the state;

  • helped students in the program improve or maintain an appropriate body mass index and exercise an average of 150 minutes per week;

  • provides an average of $440,000 per year in adult employee services to the Rapid City Area Schools.



"RAI allows us to utilize our strengths to help families overcome difficulties and provide them with tools to change their lives."


-Whitney Rencountre, Ateyapi Program Coordinator

After School and Summer ...




  • lifetime earnings of high school dropouts are $260,000 less than peers who earn a diploma;

  • over 80% of the incarcerated population is high school dropouts;

  • high school graduates are less likely than high school dropouts to be unemployed, live in poverty, have poor health or have children who also live in poverty.